The US has said that it has renewed the exemptions for Japan and ten European Union countries from tough American sanctions imposed on nations buying oil from Iran.

The third six-monthly exemption to Japan, under the Iran Sanctions Act, was given based on additional significant reductions in the volume of its crude oil purchases from Iran, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

The 10 European Union countries, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the UK, have also qualified for a renewal of the exemption from sanctions because they have not purchased Iranian oil since July 1, 2012, Kerry said.

“As a result, I will report to the Congress that exceptions to sanctions will apply to financial institutions based in these countries for a potentially renewable period of 180 days,” Kerry said in a statement.

“The United States and the international community remain committed to maintaining pressure on the Iranian regime until it fully addresses concerns about its nuclear program,” Kerry said.

“The message to the Iranian regime from the international community is clear: take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, or face increasing isolation and pressure,” he said.

Iran says that its uranium enrichment is for peaceful purposes, but Western countries and Israel accuse Tehran of covertly seeking to develop an atomic bomb.

India has so far received two six-monthly exemptions.

Given that Indian refineries have said that they will stop import of crude oil from Iran because they will not get the necessary insurance, India too is expected to get another exemption from sanctions.

(This article was published on March 14, 2013)
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